Sovovy mlýny: Renaissance of Czech cuisine
Written by: Jasmina Žarković
A new restaurant has opened on the banks of the Vltava in the Kampa Museum complex. No ordinary restaurant, Sovovy mlýny is a place where fine visual art is complemented with fine culinary art.
When at the end of the 15th century, Václav Sova of Liběves renovated the Sovovy mlýny building that had been ruined during the Hussite Wars, he certainly had no idea of the twists and turns its future would take. After that reconstruction, the building was burned down several times, then it went through many architectural changes, and last year it was hit by a thousand-year flood. One year after the flood, in September of this year, Sovovy mlýny, a café and restaurant, was newly opened in the so-called Šulc Wing of the Kampa Museum by the well-known Prague restaurateur Roman Řezníček.
The simple, timeless interior features clean lines and combinations of metal, wood, and neutral-colored fabrics, which ties the whole space to the overall structural concept of the Kampa Museum area. With its unobtrusive colors, the site is the perfect platform for planned exhibitions of large-format paintings on loan from the collection of Jan and Meda Mládek, or exhibitions of works by individual photographers, or graphics by contemporary artists. The terrace, with its newly discovered view of the Vltava and a symbol of the flood – a huge armchair by Magdalena Jetelová – thus conform to the image and tradition of Sovovy mlýny.
Owner Roman Řezníček is a successful Prague restaurateur whose establishments include Pálffy palác, Terasa u Zlaté studně (Terrace by the Golden Well), and the music club Mecca. When establishing Sovovy mlýny he made use of his international experience in gastronomy to the benefit of a “renaissance of traditional Czech cuisine,” as he says. The goal was to create a homey place for art lovers visiting the nearby Kampa Museum to sit down in, but also to offer specialties of traditional Czech cuisine to an international clientele – tourists and diplomats from embassies and offices in the vicinity. “I wanted to create a good Czech restaurant, but not to serve classic filet mignon with cream sauce. We want to show our guests that even traditional Czech appetizers can stand up to international competition,” Řezníček explains. “We cook with Czech ingredients, such as goose, rabbit, and walleye, and find entirely new ways to use them. The result is traditional dishes conceived in a modern, healthy way, that are suitably filling, and will satisfy the palate of even the most demanding guests,” he adds. The menu is prepared by a team of cooks led by chef Pavel Sapík, a member of the Czech national cooking team.
Treats like walleye with Csaba salami sauce and cabbage, saddle of rabbit wrapped in bacon with mustard-seed sauce, pork roll on shallots with cabbage and potato purée with horseradish, and roast breast of duck on mushroom risotto with apple garnish are just a few of the many specialties of Sovovy mlýny. Emphasis is placed on the use of high-quality ingredients, mainly lean meats, and on reduced fats and oils. Therefore the appetizers are prepared according to the French custom, with clarified butter, which makes it possible to preserve and elevate the natural flavors and aromas of the food. Bread is baked fresh on the premises twice a day. For chef Sapík the visual aspect and presentation also has key importance, so Sapík’s own recipes are used for the sauces. “A good cook can be recognized by his sauces and side dishes,” he affirms.
Diners can also choose from many creatively garnished desserts, such as the chocolate bomb with sour cherries or the curd dumplings with raspberries, which top off the tasty, “enhanced” Czech cuisine perfectly. Likewise, the wine list reflects the emphasis on local produce, featuring mainly varietals from the Moravian wine-producing regions of Valtice and Mikulov. Of course, the cellar also houses the most desirable French and Italian vintages.
For visitors who aren’t that hungry, the café will welcome you at any time of the day. You can also delight in Prague’s autumnal face from the restaurant’s rafting-yard.
U Sovových mlýnů 4, Praha 1 – Kampa
open: kavárna 10-23, restaurace 11-23
Tel.: 257 535 900, 737 317 776
Visa, EC/MC, Amex
FARTHER AFIELD: Mlýn
Photo by: Jan Vágner
If you have a hankering for Croatian cuisine, visit Mlýn, located on a peaceful natural setting on the brook Šárka, where a mill was built in the 17th century. The interior of this restaurant illustrates the beauty in simplicity – wood and warm colors combine to create the pleasant, homey atmosphere of the south. The same effect is created by specialties from all parts of Croatia – kulen from bountiful Slavonia, or seafood characteristic of rocky Dalmatia, which the owner imports directly. The Croatian chefs will happily prepare Adriatic octopus “under peka” with potatoes, devil-fish salad, black risotto with cuttle fish, or lobster with noodles in white wine sauce. Fresh bread is baked daily on the premises, and the pleasant staff will be happy to help you select the right Croatian wine.
Horoměřická 3A, Praha 6 – Dejvice, tel.: 220 610 760
Open daily 11:30-24:00
How to get there:
From metro station Dejvická take buses no. 161, 254, 316 to Jenerálka stop.
|Photo by: Hana Hamplová|
CEO, Philips Central Europe
“From one businessman to another, I suggest two restaurants that are both good value for money. For lunch, Kogo – as a starter or main course stick to pasta. The waiters know their food and service is excellent – you can be in and out in less than one hour. Dinner is another matter. I suggest Square, at Malostranské naměstí (an ideal location for taking foreign visitors for a stroll across Charles Bridge after dinner). Recommended light dinner menu is consommé soup with Steak tagliata Rossini, finished off with fresh fruit tiramisu. With two draft Pilsner Urquell, it will set you back about CZK 750, which is a steal. Bring your own cigars, though.”
Kogo, Havelská 27, Praha 1, tel.: 224 214 543; Slovanský dům, Na Příkopě 22, Praha 1, tel.: 221 451 259
Square – Malostranská kavárna, Malostranské nám. 5, Praha 1, tel.: 257 532 109-110